Gotta Be An Easier Way

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Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category

Mind Mapping on Steroids

The folks at Webdesigner Depot have posted 50 Great Examples of Data Visualization. These tools enable one to view large amounts of data in a visual spacial fashion that helps to reveal patters, trends and groups that are not easily observed in the traditional format. Unfortunately, this site lists 50 tools and while I have used several, but not all, I cannot make a recommendation on which tools is the best. Furthermore, the tool you choose or will need will also depend on the type of data that you need to view.

Educational Application:

Being able to present data in a visual spacial format will help most, if not all, learners get better grasp of what the data can reveal.

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  • Filed under: Graphics, Learning, Mind Mapping, Presentation, Research, Tools
  • Visuwords™


    Visuwords™ is an online graphical dictionary where you can look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. The tool enables you to produce diagrams and learn how words associate.

    Visuword combines a web 2.0 type visualization tool with Princeton University’s opensource WordNet database to create an interactive click and drag type tool that is free for everyone to use.

    Educational Applications

    Because Visuword functions like both a dictionary and thesaurus it is ideal for writers, journalists, students, teachers or anyone else who has an interest in words.

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  • Filed under: Editors, Graphics, Learning, Research, Tools
  • Directory of Learning Tools

    With 2872 tools and counting (over 2100 free) Jane Hart’s Directory of Learning Tools on the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies site will definately have something for everyone.

    It is not necessarily easy sifting through more than 2800 tools to find the one that you want but because the directory is broken down into logical categories and even has a section dedicated to personal productivity, it can serve as an excellent starting place to see just what is available.

    Many of the tools in the list will eventually find their way onto this site.

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  • Filed under: Learning, Search, Tools
  • iCue – Immerse, Connect, Understand & Excel

    The following is a cross post from and it is being re-posted to the easierway site because this clearly represents an easier or more effective way to learn history, civics and current events and should be considered a glimpse of what the future of learning may hold.

    iCue, which stands for “Immerse”, “Connect”, “Understand”, and “Excel”,  is a free, online, collaborative learning environment for students and lifelong learners ages 13 and up that includes discussion forums, games and activities, and hundreds of current and historic videos from NBC News.

    iCue was originally designed with Advanced Placement students in mind by NBC and the MIT Education Arcade who are conducting research study to find out how iCue can help students learn. Originally designed with Advanced Placement students in mind, students in high school through college and lifelong learners of all ages will enjoy watching the NBC videos, playing the games, joining discussion forums and trading Cue Cards while they learn.

    The system can be used by a wide assortment of learners at many levels but does offer the following courses as a starting point:

    • U.S. History,
    • U.S. Government and Politics, and
    • English Language and Composition.
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  • Filed under: Collaborative, Learning, Networking, Research, Social Networking, Video
  • Etherpad: Realtime Collaborative Text Editing

    About the only limiting factor to Google Apps/Docs for collaboration on documents is that one still needs to have a Google account to access and collaborate on a document, spreadsheet or presentation. If your intended users/audience are not comfortable with creating a Google account or just do not want to, but you still need to collaborate on a document then Etherpad is the best way to go.

    You don’t need an account to start and Etherpad and anyone who you send or give the document URL to can start editing the document in real time. Users can identify their edits by color and name so it is very easy to see who has written what.

    Educational Applications:

    • This is one web-based app that you just need to “click and see” just how easy it is to use and what it can do for you.
    • Collaboration, engagement, brainstorming, mind mapping and so on….One is only limited by their own imagination.
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  • Filed under: Collaborative, Editors, Learning, Mind Mapping, Networking
  • Web 2.0 Selection Criteria

    The following Web 2.0 Selection Criteria was taken from the Tek Trek website and modified to suit our needs. Consider the following as a good STARTING point on building your own selection criteria.

    Criteria 5: Learning

    • Does the tool enhance learning?
    • Does the tool enhance engagement?
    • Does the tool allow you to be creative during the learning and instructional process?
    • Does the tool provide opportunities for different types of interaction (visual, verbal, written)?
    • Does the tool increase the perception of connectedness?
    • Does the tool encourage collaboration?

    Criteria 2: Access

    • Is the tool accessible by Windows and Mac users?
    • Is the tool / product of tool viewable in a variety of web browsers?
    • Does the tool work well for those with wireless connections?
    • Is the tool free?
    • Will the tool be around for a while?

    Criteria 3: Usability

    • Do you have to create an account to use the tool?
    • Is the tool easy to use?
    • Does the tool have a robust and easy to use Help section?
    • Does anything have to be downloaded and installed on the computer to use the tool?
    • Does the tool integrate into your browser (plug-in, extension, widget etc.)?

    Criteria 4: Privacy & Intellectual Property

    • Does the tool allow you to restrict access of your work/your students’ work?
    • Does the tool allow you to control access based on groups?
    • Does the tool protect your personal data (e.g. email address given when account created)?
    • Does the tool allow you / your students to retain sole IP rights to the content you create?
    • Can you save a copy of the product to your desktop for archival purposes?

    Criteria 5: Workload & Time Management

    • Does the tool make it easy to track student work?
    • Does the tool support private and public commenting (for individual and group feedback)?
    • Does the tool provide for an RSS feed to track work via email or an RSS reader?
    • Is it possible to embed the tool into the LMS you’re using?

    The most significant difference between our list and the original Web 2.0 Selection Criteria posted on the Tek Trek website is that we have placed “Learning” at the top of the list and moved some of the”Fun” items from the original list to this position.

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  • Filed under: Learning